Pinball usually involves huge tables comprising glass, metal, plastic, and blinking lights (or digital versions thereof).
So it's initially strange to stare at the sparse tables of INKS, which sit halfway between papercraft and tastefully minimal modern interface design.
There are nods to textures, but the tables here are mostly flat flippers, flat bumpers, and a bunch of coloured targets. It's only when you start thwacking a ball about that the game comes to life.Art attack
The gimmick is that the targets emit an explosion of ink when hit. When the ball trundles through these splats, it leaves trails across the table, which becomes a kind of modern art canvas. Beyond looking pretty, this showcases how good (or bad) your aim is.
Unlike traditional pinball, INKS isn't about missions, high scores, or even staying alive for long periods. Instead, it's mobile-oriented and bite-sized.
Once you've hit all the targets on a table (which usually takes under a minute), the ball is sucked into a black hole, giving you the chance to snap and share your work of pinball art, then move on to the next table.Aim to please
This initially feels reductive, but INKS is a grower. Over time you appreciate the smart table design, and the fact the game doubles down on precision aiming, turning each table into a miniature pinball puzzle.
The scoring system is also interesting. You start off with a gold ball. Mess up and the balls in turn become silver, bronze, and finally black.
The last of those scribbles black trails over the table with all the respect of someone attacking a Kandinsky with a biro.Flip out
There are, however, niggles. Pars aren't detailed, the physics doesn't feel overly solid, the ball occasionally travels through the flippers, and even when you head to the later (and tougher) level packs, INKS comes off as overly simple and a bit lacking in ambition.
Ultimately it feels like a modern, splattery skin on the kind of pinball game you might once have enjoyed on an Apple II or Commodore 64.
Still, INKS broadly succeeds in trying something a bit different, most notably with its level-based structure.
And it manages to be just pinball enough to appeal to aficionados while boasting the kind of accessibility that should ensure wider appeal.